I think I’ve mentioned once or twice that we’ve had our fair share of challenges throughout our farmhouse renovation project. Our latest in what seems to be an endless list re-dos involves a major undertaking: the floors.
The initial wood-floor installation for the whole house took several weekends—read two to three months. After sitting another couple months while we toiled away on other projects, I noticed that the floorboards were popping … loudly. I was assured this was a normal part of the curing process, but it was soon clearly evident by the creaking floorboards, bulging areas and slight cupping that something was wrong.
We called the mill to troubleshoot the potential sources of the problem: moisture, settling and improper installation. After eliminating the installation from the list—we left more room than was required around the perimeter of the room—we focused on moisture.
Because the gutters still needed to be installed and the block foundation had yet to be sealed, it seemed the most likely culprit. We checked under the house to find a dry foundation, installed dehumidifiers (I’d like to point out that we put these in as the weather was turning cold—not your typical timing) and made the gutters the top priority. We still need to seal the block, which I was told works like a sponge to wick up nearby moisture, but the gutters eliminated ground moisture against the foundation.
Photo by Stephanie Staton
While we still haven’t pinpointed the one or more sources of our flooring issue, we were able to tick each potential cause off the list to prevent further damage. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to save us the headache of painstakingly removing two large sections of flooring and relaying it so that the floors would lie flat. The swollen boards pushed against the walls and heaved up in the middle so much so that the floor boards actually separated—a tall feat given that each board is nailed in place.
To stop the potential progression of heaving throughout the rest of the house, we trimmed the outer floorboards on each side of each room to allow space for more swelling, should it occur down the road. While the spaces were easy to conceal with moulding, it still made for more work and time spent on a project we thought was completed.
The floors no longer creak, the cupping has settled somewhat and the heaving hasn’t returned since relaying those sections of flooring. I’m not sure this was an avoidable predicament in our case, but I’m glad that I could call and speak with someone outside of the situation to help get us back on track and prevent further damage—something to consider when you’re selecting a retailer or manufacture for big purchases.